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Quora.com is a question-and-answer site where content is written and edited by its community of users. Occasionally we syndicate content from the site if we think it will interest TPG readers. This article originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question, Why are some African airlines banned from flying into EU countries?


Sebastian Lender, Airline Pilot:

Let me give you an example. One African airline I know of has the procedure that every landing must be a smooth one. That sounds okay to most people, but hopefully not to the pilots among us. They mandated that landing smoothly was more important than landing in the touchdown zone. They didn’t go around, they would simply touch down in the middle of the runway and slam on the brakes, close their eyes and pray that they didn’t go off the end of the runway. But the passengers never knew any of this, just feeling a smooth touchdown, so that was the most important factor for them.

The same airline would work out the maximum load they were able to safely lift in terms of passengers and freight, complete the load sheet and other paperwork to fit with this maximum, then do the real calculations in-flight, commonly landing more than five metric tonnes over the maximum landing weight.

The same airline made their pilots work 10 days on, one day off. They were not allowed to call in sick and any breach of this would necessitate armed men being sent to the pilots place of accommodation to physically force them onto the aircraft. I believe I know of two First Officers who got away with it — one because he had been arrested for murder, the other because he had been kidnapped. So I guess they weren’t totally unreasonable.

The SOP at my airline is to descend at 700 feet per minute for a three-degree approach and flare at about 20 feet. The SOP for this airline was to descend at 1500 feet per minute — thrust is idle so it saved them fuel — and flare at about 100 feet, floating down the runway to land dangerously, but smoothly, far far down the runway. Maintenance procedures were ignored and reports doctored. Licenses and check rides were given and passed based on bribes.

All in all, I think the short answer to your question is that some African airlines are banned from flying into the EU because they do not meet the requisite safety standards. By a long, long way.


Peter Fabian:

The European Union via its regulatory and advisory bodies, including European Aviation Safety Agency, publishes a list of countries and/or specific airlines that are banned from operating in Europe.

The reasons given for this ban are safety concerns, while in countrywide cases it’s mostly lack of belief in sufficient oversight and other times, it might be a specific airline that has demonstrated a lack of safety culture or there could be a problem with access to necessary parts due to sanctions (as would have been the case in Iran).

Occasionally, there will be exceptions to this rule if a singular airline from an otherwise-banned country is believed to have better standards of internal control or subjects itself to external oversight (either on request, or by virtue of operating foreign registered, wet lease aircraft).

Featured image of Daallo aircraft courtesy of Mohamed Abdiwahab via Getty Images.

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